Making it beautiful (and usable)

datePosted on 06:00, January 7th, 2009 by Anita

There’ve been a couple of suggestions about how to fiddle the layout to make this blog easier to comment on and/or more beautiful.

Suggestions are very very welcome, so please stick them in the comments here and we’ll see what we can do.

If the NZ government wanted to do something about Israel’s actions what could we, a tin pot little country on the other side of the world, do?

It’s hard to know what we could do, it’s easy to understand why the government’s response is vague wafflings (although a statement that we think its wrong wouldn’t go amiss), and I’ve struggled to come up with any options, but here are my thoughts

  1. A public statement that Israel’s action is disproportionate, unacceptable and should stop. That seems like the easy one, but I’m sure someone with a foreign affairs background might explain it’s not without cost.
  2. We could go to the UNHCR and offer to take Palestinian refugees in addition to our existing quota. It’s not a public high profile measure, but it would make a real difference to some real lives. 
  3. Working for a UN statement. We might never get one, but it would keep up the international pressure
  4. A travel ban on government and military officials and families? I was scraping the barrel to come up with this one, it seems like something we could actually do and, again, it’s a sign to the international community.

Anything else?

What we can do as individuals is slightly easier; as usual Indymedia is providing a space for people to advertise events. There’s a protest in Wellington today, and one in Auckland on Saturday.

Out of Their Depth

datePosted on 13:18, January 3rd, 2009 by Pablo

John Key’s awe–or was it dumb–struck performance at the 2008 APEC meetings in Lima and recent comments made by his Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence (Murray McCully and Wayne Mapp, respectively) do not portend well for the conduct of New Zealand’s foreign affairs. Key quivered about meeting that lame duck named George W. Bush. He gushed about having the opportunity to meet people “he had read about.” He then turned preacher. In his public presentation Key lectured his larger partners about the financial crisis, seemingly oblivious to the fact that his currency speculator past made him especially unsuitable to lecture anyone on the virtues of finance capital–particularly when several APEC partners have already moved away from the neoliberal prescriptions he so fervently embraces. His call for resumption of the Doha round of WTO talks was little more than showboating given that major actors such as Brazil, India and China have made clear that there are limits to openness when it comes to their strategic industries, and the US and other advanced economies continue to subsidise a number of agricultural sectors for political rather than economic purposes. Given that state intervention, in the form of financial bailouts, has become the primary rescue vehicle used by advanced democracies to prevent the utter collapse of their economies, Mr. Key’s pro-market rhetoric rang both hollow and hypocritical–or profoundly naive.

New Zealand media made much of Key’s APEC trip, but no one else did. No deals were struck or progress made on issues of significance to the country. To the contrary. Mr. Key and his “posse” did not even receive audiences with many of the leaders attending the summit. Judging from foreign reports none of Key and co.’s performances with foreign leaders made New Zealand look particularly impressive. From abroad, Key’s APEC sojourn appeared to be a a matter of personal hubris rather than political necessity, or more charitably, a convenient debutant stopover on Key’s trip to meet the Queen. Read the rest of this entry »

There’s nothing new to see here

datePosted on 13:05, January 3rd, 2009 by Anita

In early December two new National MPs were welcomed as heralds of the new multi-ethnic National Party. The maiden speeches of Sam Lotu-Iiga and Melissa Lee were the perfect showcases of a new look party: ethnic heritage, community languages, younger faces, respect for the tangata whenua. Yet despite the effort National has put into the semblence, today’s party is no more more inclusive than it was under Brash or English, it’s just a little less out-dated in its conservatism.

Lotu-Iiga, with his Auckland Grammar schooling, his Cambridge MBA and his career in Finance and Law is not typical of New Zealand Samoans. Lee’s career as a TV journalist is far from the experience of most Asian immigrants. They are as unrepresentative of their communities as Key is of state house kids.

Don’t misunderstand me, this is no criticism of either of them – they’re clearly bright intelligent successful people who may well be outstanding additions to Parliament. But signs of National becoming a diverse party of social inclusion they are not. National has not started representing mainstream New Zealand – with our working class jobs, our trades qualifications, our disabilities, our rented cold damp homes and our struggle to access health services and education.

All that has happened is that National – traditionally the party of the wealthy, of business connections, of the 5% – has finally realised that, despite the policies of the right, a handful of Pacific and Asian immigrants have clawed their way into that privileged few.

Greetings.

datePosted on 12:42, January 3rd, 2009 by Pablo

Since the new year has started I figured that I would get the ball rolling here at Kiwipolitico. Although jafapete and anita are the originators of this blog, they kindly invited me to participate given the overlap in our perspectives. That is much appreciated.

I shall use the blog as an outlet for non-academic musings on issues of comparative and international politics, from a NZ-focused perspective. The hope is to generate interest and informed discussion on issues that otherwise may not receive the attention that they deserve (at least in NZ).

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